An interview with Allan Sekula conducted 2011 August 20-2012 February 14, by Mary Panzer, for the Archives of American Art at Sekula's studio and home in Los Angeles, California and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York.
Sekula speaks of his career and some of the mediums he works in; language and contemporary art; Roland Barthes; his relation to contemporary art; west coast conceptualism; genre switches; realism; documentary photography; Belgium and the industrial revolution; Meunier; minor figures; art history and marginalism; Roberto Matta; World War I; Homer Folks; Fish Story; historic cinema; economic factors of art shows and publication; galleries and the art world; growing up and his family; his father and moving; Ohio; his brothers and sisters; San Pedro; demographics of students at school; sports at school; Vietnam; protests; cross country and swimming; California; fishing; college; U.C. system; declaring a major; John Altoon; Ed Kienholz; exposure to art; visiting museums; Marcuse's classes; Baldessari's classes; course work and student life; student demonstrations; working in a library and exposure to books; father losing his job; science and working as a chemical technician; politics; his uncle committing suicide; moving away from his father; the draft; John Birch; Students for a Democratic Society; his mother; politics of his parents; Aerospace Folk Tales, autodidacts and scholarship; San Diego and Mexico; obtaining a camera and starting to use it; art school; CalArts; UCSD; Meditations on a Triptych; David Salle; Fred Lonidier; Phel Steinmetz; MFA and art training; poets; story of Allen Ginsberg and one of Sekula's sculptures; production and the audience; A Photograph is Worth a Thousand Questions, photography and the burden of tradition; pictorialism; moving to New York; Artforum; October; New York music scene; Captain Beefheart; Bo Diddley; Little Richard; Steichen and aerial photography; origins of October; New Criterion; Art Critic's Grant; teaching at Ohio State; television; technological historians; New York subway and getting a ticket for using French money; RISD lectures; Long Beach; photography; collages; Metro Pictures; New Topographics; School as a Factory; moral choice and the viewer; work method and the audience; Social Criticism and Art Practice; east and west coasts; Ed Ruscha; documentary; film, Los Angeles; cinema and social history; Ohio State Department of Photography and Cinema; Los Angeles Plays Itself; Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador; Ohio State campus, anti-Semitism; Ronald Reagan and protest; influences and colleagues; intellectual genealogy; Michael Graves and Ohio State architecture; Bad Ohio; tenure; University Exposed; AIDS issue of October; The Body and the Archive; making film; Korean War; collectors and images. Sekula also recalls Eleanor Antin, Jeff Wall, Terry Fox, Lewis Hine, Walker Evans, Paul Saltman, Marcuse, Baldessari, Sacvan Bercovitch, Stanley Miller, Jef Raskin, Paul Brach, David Antin, Howard Fried, Peter Van Riper, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, Manny Farber, Ihab Hassan, Diane Wakoski, Jackson Mac Low, Martha Rosler, Lenny Neufeld, Joshua Neufeld, David Wing, Brian Connell, Max Kozloff, Ian Burn, Mel Ramsden, Carole Conde, Karl Beveridge, Barry Rosens, Tom Crow, John Copeland, Harry Lunn, Hilton Kramer, Grace Mayer, Carol Duncan, Eva Cockroft, Richard Pommer, Rosalind Krauss, Sally Stein, Paddy Chayefsky, John Hanhardt, Mel Ramsden, Sarah Charlesworth, Jospeh Kosuth, Baruch Kirschenbaum, Robert Heinecken, Brian O'Doherty, Howard Becker, Jay Ruby, Jerry Liebling, Anna Wilkie, Ronald Feldman, John Gibson, David Ross, Britt Salvesen, Larry Sultan, Mike Mandel, Roy Ascott, Ilene Segalove, Paul Schimmel, DeeDee Halleck, Noel Burch, Joan Braderman, Woody Hayes, Thom Andersen, John Quigley, Ron Green, Kasper Koenig, Dan Graham, Jonathan Green, Christa Wolf, Catherine Lord, Ben Lifson, and Annette Michelson.
Biographical / Historical:
Allan Sekula (1951-2013) was a photographer, filmmaker, and writer, based at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Mary Panzer (1955- ) is a historian from New York, New York.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
One box of correspondence with Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich and one box of correspondence with Robert Fichter are ACCESS RESTRICTED; use requires written permission.
Eileen Cowin papers, 1961-2021. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
6 Items (microcassettes and 9 sound cassettes;(partially transcribed and microfilmed on 3 partial reels))
1981 June 18- Nov. 20
Scope and Contents:
Interviews of California photographers conducted by curator Louise Katzman or Irene Borger in connection with the 1984 exhibition and catalog "California Photography: 1945 to the Present," organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Interviewees include John Brumfield, David Fahey, Hal Fischer, Robbert Flick, Jack Fulton, John Gutmann, Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, Leland Rice, Todd Walker, and Don Worth. Also included is an interview with Focus Gallery owner Helen Johnston.
REELS 3197-3199: Transcripts of interviews, including: David Fahey (19 p.), Hal Fischer (30 p.), Robbert Flick (32 p.), John Gutmann (26 p.), Mike Mandel and collaborator Larry Sultan (28 p.), Todd Walker (61 p.), and Don Worth (30 p.). The photographers discuss their early involvement with photography, influences on their work; studying and teaching; working in California; the photography market; and future directions of their work.
UNMICROFILMED: An interview of Leland Rice (83 p.).
UNTRANSCRIBED: Interviews of John Brumfield, Jack Fulton, and gallery owner Helen Johnston.
Donated 1982 by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Leland Rice interview is: ACCESS RESTRICTED; written permission required.
Fahey, Fischer, Flick, Guttman, Mandel and Sultan, Walker and Worth interviews are: transcribed and microfilmed; patrons must use microfilm copy.
Brumfield, Fulton and Johnston are: untranscribed microcassettes; use requires an appt. and is limited to AAA's Washington, D.C. office.